I don’t even know what to write here that hasn’t already been said by every parent crying into their wine at 11pm while trying to figure out what to put on their timesheet for the hours they spent yelling at their kids to be quiet so they could work. If you read or watch or absorb any form of journalism right now then you know we are in a shit situation that isn’t going to end soon and that parents are suffering a lot and being asked to do impossible things like work and parent and teach and maintain a home all in the same 8-16 hours.
Obviously, some people are suffering more. I get that. I really do. But relative suffering is still suffering. And if you are suffering, I think it’s ok to own that.
Some days are better than others.
Some days, there is good news – like Maine tripling their testing capacity or Eventide opening back up for takeout. Some days there is sunshine.
Other days, it snows in May.
But besides the weather and what we’re eating, the days all start to feel pretty much the same.
Two weeks ago I hit my breaking point. It was week 6 – maybe 7? Ive lost count. I think a lot of people hit the wall around then, though. It was a weird feeling because as someone with panic disorder I’m all too familiar with what a panic attack feels like but this was different. It wasn’t anxiety, it wasn’t panic it was just – a complete loss of control. Tears, anger, body shaking, mind spinning out like bald tires on icy roads.
If I wasn’t bawling I would have been laughing at myself, rocking back and forth on the back steps like a mental patient in a bad 80s movie about some hidden psych ward on a remote island off the coast of Massachusetts. My body and my brain had literally given out. You can only push them so hard for so long before it all comes crashing down.
I couldn’t even look at my kids. Just the sight of them made me angry. The sound of their voices, no matter how sweet, grated my brain, threatening all that pent up anger to rip out at them.
Dan took them upstairs and put them to sleep while I listened to them cry for me and cursed myself for not feeling more empathy for their tiny little aching hearts. But I couldn’t feel anything. I was all empathy-ed out.
After the girls fell asleep Dan made me a drink and I sat on the couch and sipped it while drowning out my thoughts with another inane episode of Love Island until, mercifully, I fell asleep.
When I woke up I felt mostly the same, just a little emptier, like all the tears had been scooped up and dumped out.
It feels a little absurd to be writing this, like I’m trying to cook up some dramatic scene in a Hallmark movie but that’s kind of how the whole world feels right now so all I can say is this really happened and I really wasn’t ok – like, Dan was ready to call my therapist for a new prescription kind of not ok.
Instead of drugs (which, don’t knock em til you try em, they really work) we decided first to try to bring in some reinforcements. The risk of opening up our “quarantine circle” we determined was worth the benefit of getting a little bit of relief.
As Dan somewhat sarcastically pointed out, our circle would be a whole lot bigger if I was admitted to a psychiatric facility so – probably safer to just bring in a sitter.
We ended up bringing in Dan’s mom and sister to help us with the kids and literally my whole life has changed. Between the two of them, they watched the kids 4 days last week, and took them overnight twice.
I can’t even describe the weight that has been lifted off my shoulders, and I’m sure Dan’s as well. While of course I worry about everyone’s health and whether or not we’re doing the right (read: safe) thing – what I know for sure is that the girls are so happy to see their cousin, aunt and Grammie again – and to have someone pay attention to them and care for them like the little kids that they are. Having to basically look after themselves for two months at just 4 and 6 years old was wearing on them, too.
Today it is May 9th and it’s snowing and normally that would put me over the edge but instead of sulking I cleaned the house, washed all the sheets, I’m sipping an iced coffee while folding 100 loads of laundry, Dan is making bagels, and the girls are back home and cozied up with some ridiculous YouTube show and it almost, sort of, kind of feels a little bit normal.
I have my in-laws to thank for that and while most people love to hate their in-laws I feel luckier than ever to be lifted up and supported by my extended family today – and honestly, every day. They are the absolute best in-laws and general support network anyone could ever ask for.
And it’s a good thing we are heading into this next week feeling so refreshed because our lives are about to change in a big way next Friday. But you’ll just have to wait until then to hear about what’s in store (literally – hint hint) for the Richards’ Family next week.
Until next time…